Compliments and complaints about Hilton's master plan

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A multi-million dollar makeover plan is prompting compliments and complaints. Waikiki's largest hotel wants to build two timeshare towers and expand its retail space as part of its master plan. Dozens of people showed up for a public hearing about Hilton Hawaiian Village's project.

The resort's $760-million master plan features improvements to the 22-acre property over a 10-year period. The entry would be upgraded and the retail landscape would be expanded. Two new timeshare towers would also be built, earning support from construction workers who have been looking for jobs for more than two years.

"There's been a lack of building in Honolulu since the banking crisis and what not. So anything helps, and it's a beautiful project, and we wanna support any building going on right now," said Ray Reynolds of the Hawaii Carpenters Union.

The first 37-story, 300-unit tower would be built over the existing bus depot. It would be roughly the same height as the Tapa Tower and Grand Waikikian. The second 250-unit tower would be part of the redevelopment of the Rainbow Bazaar. A handful of Waikiki residents worried about traffic, parking, sewage and other problems testified against the project.

"By adding more and more people to that high density area is not going to do anything but cause more and more inconvenience for the residents in that area," said Waikiki resident Tom Penrose.

The hotel is looking at adding 125 parking stalls. Other changes include creating a new bus and trolley pullout lane, and restriping Kalia Road.

"We're going to have two lanes instead of one right now on Kalia Road. We're going to carve out an area for all the trolleys and for the buses," said Jerry Gibson, Hilton Hawaii's area vice president.

According to the resort, the project will create about 480 construction jobs along with more than 530 full-time positions after 2028, but critics aren't convinced the plan will improve their neighborhood.

"The area is already completely maxed out view plane-wise, traffic-wise, infrastructure-wise, emergency service-wise, everything. It's on the verge of becoming an unpleasant place and I think this would tip it over," said Waikiki resident Alethea Rebman.

The Department of Planning and Permitting will submit its recommendation to the Honolulu City Council by October 6th. The Hilton hopes to start improvement work next year, and construction on the first timeshare tower in 2013.

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